An International Perspective On Land Scattering

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Explorations In Economic History


Statistical tests of a number of hypotheses concerning the degree of land scattering are carried out using a worldwide sample of 35 nations for the period around 1960. Such cross-national evidence provides some support for the proposition that scattering is brought about by production scheduling problems occurring with short growing seasons and the ensuing difficulties in obtaining nonfamily labor at critical periods without high transaction costs. Little support is obtained for other propositions linking scattering to risk, partible inheritance, striving for equality, or joint production. These empirical results have relevance for the debate about the economic forces underlying the West European common field system during the Middle Ages.

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